About Adotei Akwei

Adotei Akwei is Managing Director, Government Relations for Amnesty International USA. He rejoined AIUSA in September 2010 after serving as the Senior Policy Advisor for CARE USA. In this capacity, Adotei helped develop and implement advocacy on CARE USA's priority issues towards the US government. Prior to joining the Government Relations team in Washington DC, he served as the Regional Advocacy Advisor for CARE's Asia Regional Management Unit. As an RAA, Adotei supported CARE Country Offices in Asia in the development and implementation of national level advocacy strategies as well as with regional advocacy priorities. Before joining CARE, Adotei worked with Amnesty International USA for 11 years, first as the senior Advocacy Director for Africa and then later as Director of Campaigns. From 1992 to 1994 Adotei served as Africa Director for the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, now Human Rights First. Prior to that he served as the Research and Human Rights Director for the American Committee on Africa and the Africa Fund. Adotei received his Master's degree in International Relations from the College of William and Mary and his Bachelor's degree from the State University of New York College at Purchase. He is born in Ghana, is married and has two sons.
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#DearObama: Freedom of Expression and the State of the Union – An Opportunity for the President

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

This blog is part of a series on human rights in the State of the Union address. The United States has an obligation to pursue policies that ensure respect for human rights at home and around the world. Follow along and join the conversation using #SOTUrights.

By Adotei Akwei and Cindy Tsz-nga Ko

On Tuesday January 20, President Obama will have an opportunity to address the nation and underscore the priorities for his administration in 2015. Much of the speech is expected to focus on domestic economic issues but the White House has also indicated that issues such as policing in the United States, immigration reform, closing Guantanamo and violent extremism will also be addressed. Given that a key the underlying theme connecting these issues is human rights, the central question is whether the Obama administration will shape foreign policy that will help build a safer world where rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.

The President’s framing of key human rights concerns in this evening’s State of the Union address may be an indication of whether or not the Obama administration will use 2015 to champion human rights, as so many hoped, or whether he will pursue misguided policies that sideline human rights in the name of security. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Elections in Nigeria Must Lead to Protection and Accountability

NIGERIA-UNREST-RELIGION

[UPDATE: The Nigerian presidential elections have been postponed to March 28, 2015.]

In the Nigerian presidential elections on February 15th, and after a year of conflict spurred by attacks by the armed group Boko Haram, one would expect security issues to be the top topic of debate. However, in his New Years address to the nation, President Goodluck Jonathan, the incumbent in the election, placed little emphasis on the severity of the violence in the northern regions of the country. Instead, he devoted a majority of the speech to his commitment to the oil industry and other topics of infrastructure and development. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Tomorrow could mean life or death for Moses Akatugba

Moses Akatugba was 16 years old when he was arrested by the Nigerian police in 2005.

In the years that followed, he was beaten by the police, shot in the hand, and hung for hours at the police station. After 8 years of torture and ill treatment that led to a coerced confession of his involvement in a robbery, he was sentenced to death November 2013.

Moses’ case is sadly all too familiar in Nigeria, where a recent report by Amnesty International found the use of torture and ill-treatment to be rampant SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Torture, the Way of Life for the Nigerian Security Forces

Bxz_81jIIAI4rpvAn encounter with the Nigerian security forces can be a dangerous thing.

The police and military routinely engage in beating people in their custody with whips, gun butts, machetes, batons, sticks, rods and cables. Rape and sexual assault are widespread Detainees can be shot in the leg, foot or hand during interrogation, or have their nails or teeth extracted with pliers.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Zone 9: The Growing Gulag in Ethiopia

Free Zone 9 Bloggers

(Credit: Hisham Almiraat, Global Voices Online)

In Ethiopia, an ever-increasing number of journalists, opposition members, activists, and other dissenting voices, are imprisoned in the eight zones of the infamous Kaliti Prison in Addis Ababa.

However, a ninth zone exists in Ethiopia, one that extends well beyond the walls of Kaliti. The inability to express thoughts freely without fearing for one’s safety represents a virtual ‘imprisonment’ for the vast majority Ethiopian citizens. It was with this principle in mind that “Zone 9” was created.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Boko Haram: Now What?

Women hold banners during a march of Nigeria women and mothers of the kidnapped girls of Chibok, calling for their freedom (Photo Credit: Philip Ojisua/AFP/Getty Images).

Women hold banners during a march of Nigeria women and mothers of the kidnapped girls of Chibok, calling for their freedom (Photo Credit: Philip Ojisua/AFP/Getty Images).

Johanna Lee contributed to this post. 

In mid-April, Islamist armed group Boko Haram abducted 276 schoolgirls aged 15-18 from the village of Chibok in northeast Nigeria. The abductions triggered outrage, protests and a social media campaign criticizing the response of the Nigerian authorities and demanding a major effort to secure the freedom of the girls.

Yet, almost two months later, little, if any, progress has been made in freeing the kidnapped girls and the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan and his security forces have failed to communicate a plan or even convince the families of the girls that they are doing all that they can to get the girls released.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

First Impressions Count: An Agenda for Secretary Kerry’s Trip to Africa

In his upcoming Africa trip, Secretary Kerry has a rare opportunity to reiterate that human rights and good governance are priorities for the United States and to ask for meaningful reforms by these governments (Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Martin/AFP/GettyImages).

In his upcoming Africa trip, Secretary Kerry has a rare opportunity to reiterate that human rights and good governance are priorities for the United States and to ask for meaningful reforms by these governments (Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Martin/AFP/GettyImages).

Secretary of State Kerry embarks today on a trip to Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola. The trip offers a key opportunity to refocus U.S. leadership on the deteriorating respect for human rights by the ruling governments in Addis Ababa and Luanda and on the need for more leadership on good governance by the government of President Kabila in Kinshasa.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST